Consuming any type of food that is raw will most likely expose us to salmonella. That being said, it’s important to know exactly how to kill salmonella.
One of the most common meats consumed is chicken, and there are various methods people think would eradicate salmonella from this type of meat and it is by freezing them—so does freezing chicken kill salmonella?
Sadly, freezing does not kill salmonella from a chicken. However, it does slow down the process of bacteria growth on the meat itself. Freezing foods, especially raw food, has some benefits to them, although killing salmonella is not one of them.
Luckily, one sure way of killing salmonella from your chicken meat is by cooking it.
However, you must ensure that the chicken you are about to cook has not been exposed to room temperature for two hours or more since this would most likely be contaminated by salmonella and cannot be killed simply by cooking it.
There is so much more that needs to be talked about when it comes to salmonella in chicken. Find out more about how to avoid salmonella in chicken by reading some tips we have prepared for you!
What Is Actually Salmonella?
Salmonella is a bacterial infection that occurs in the intestinal tract when the body consumes food that is either raw, not cooked properly, or is not cleaned well.
That being said, humans get infected with salmonella primarily due to contaminated foods. To be more specific, salmonella is highly present in the following foods:
- Raw food (meat, poultry, and seafood). Raw foods like meat and poultry get contaminated with feces when they are being butchered. As for seafood, they get salmonella due to contaminated water.
- Raw eggs are also one of the common sources of salmonella, and this happens when chickens produce eggs that are already contaminated with salmonella way before their shells are formed (shells protect the egg from salmonella).
- Fruits and vegetables can also be a source of salmonella if they are being watered using contaminated water.
They may also be contaminated when being used in the kitchen while you are preparing raw food such as meat or poultry, and then some of its juices ooze their way to the fruits and vegetables, therefore, contaminating them with salmonella.1
How Does Salmonella Contaminate Chicken?
Salmonella contaminates chicken when it is undercooked. Contamination also happens when the chicken itself is contaminated by the feces of other animals that have salmonella in their intestinal tracts.
The majority of domestic animals are at risk of spreading salmonella to other animals. Take note that animals such as chickens, pigs, dogs, cattle, cats, and other domesticated animals are prone to spreading this bacterial infection.2
Since chickens are most likely kept in groups, there is a high possibility that they can be infected with salmonella due to congestion inside their coops. Once they are butchered for their meat and sold in the market, the meat itself will be exposed to more salmonella.
How so? Chicken meat would be exposed to other meats that are contaminated with salmonella. If the chicken meat is placed near contaminated meats, the juices will most likely make their way to the chicken meat and contaminate it.
Chicken meat is not completely safe in your home either. They can get contaminated if they are exposed to contaminated meats in your freezer, being placed in a contaminated cutting board, or being chopped and sliced using contaminated kitchen utensils.3
How To Kill Salmonella In Chicken?
The only way you can kill salmonella in chicken is by cooking it thoroughly. It must reach a certain temperature before you can be certain that the bacterial infection is gone from the chicken meat.
As much as possible, ensure that your chicken is cooked at a temperature of 165°F (74°C) or something higher than that. Make sure that the temperature is precise so that the salmonella will be removed from the meat.
It is highly recommended that you use a food thermometer to measure heat when cooking chicken meat as this is far better than guessing if the temperature you are cooking at is accurate.
It is essential to take note that there is an instance wherein cooking will not be able to eradicate salmonella from a chicken, and this happens when the chicken meat is exposed to room temperature for more than two hours.
Bacteria rapidly multiply in warm temperatures, therefore, the bacteria count present in the chicken would have exceeded the dangerous level. Once this happens, the chicken meat cannot be saved anymore and should be discarded immediately.
How about freezing chicken? Does freezing kill salmonella? As previously mentioned—this method does not kill salmonella. However, it does a good job at slowing down the bacterial growth on the chicken meat.
How To Avoid Salmonella In Chicken? 7 Tips
Killing salmonella in chicken is one thing, but what about avoiding salmonella through different means? Luckily, salmonella can be prevented in various ways, all of which are simple to do and can be done by anyone.
1. Clean Your Kitchen Countertop
In the process of preparing our meals, it is inevitable to place raw foods on our kitchen countertops, in turn, the juices coming from raw food products leak on the surface.
This would cause the spread of the bacterial infection, salmonella, on the surface on countertops. If this is left unclean, the next time you place another food product on the countertop will contaminate it due to the leftover bacteria from your last cooking session.
To prevent this, you must always clean your countertops after every meal preparation. Ensure that you are using proper cleaning materials, especially those that target bacteria.
2. Clean Your Kitchen Utensils
Like kitchen countertops, the utensils you use in the kitchen can also be contaminated by salmonella if they are not cleaned properly. Ensure that you keep your utensils clean at all times by washing them after every use.
3. Keep Your Chicken Meat Away From Other Meats
During meal prep, it is likely that you are prepping different kinds of raw foods at the same time. Ensure that you are not keeping them near each other since the bacteria will make its way to the chicken via the juices coming out from the contaminated meats.
Keep raw foods as far away from each other as possible by prepping only one raw food at a time. You can temporarily keep your other raw food products in the freezer so that the bacteria will not grow rapidly on them.
4. Use A Separate Chopping Board for Every Use
Little do people know that chopping boards serve as homes to bacteria, and this is exactly why you must own multiple chopping boards for various uses.
You must have a chopping board for fresh produce, one for raw meats, one for cooked foods, etc. This is to prevent the transfer of bacteria from raw food to fresh and cooked food.
5. Do Not Wash Raw Chicken
It is a big no-no to wash raw chicken since the liquid that would fall from the meat will get into the sink, countertop, and other places in the kitchen and spread the bacteria there.
Ultimately, this would result in the contamination of kitchen utensils, sinks, and countertops.
6. Use A Food Thermometer When Cooking Chicken
To ensure that you reach the recommended heat in cooking your chicken, make use of a food thermometer.
This would prove to be quite an effective tool for making sure you reach 165°F (74°C), which is the temperature at which salmonella will be killed.
7. Never Place Cooked or Fresh Food Near Raw Food
Cooked food may be free from salmonella, however, that does not make them immune from catching the bacterial infection again.
Make sure that you do not place cooked food on surfaces where raw food was just placed since salmonella will surely make its way to the cooked food and contaminate it.
Chicken And Salmonella – In short
Does freezing chicken kill salmonella? No. The only way you can kill salmonella is by cooking the chicken at 165°F (74°C) or higher.
Prevention is better than cure, so you must take note of every preventive measure we have mentioned to ensure that you will not expose yourself to the dangers of salmonella.
It is essential to stay educated when it comes to how a person can kill salmonella and avoid it from contaminating chicken and other food products. Once this is observed, people will reduce the likelihood of them being sick from salmonella.
For more tips about chicken, you can also read this article: how long do cooked chicken wings last in the fridge?